Updated: Feb 1
Satya, truthfulness, is the second of the five Yamas (restraints) described in the Yoga Sutra, these sutras can encourage us to live mindfully, honestly and true.
The word sat can be translated many ways, 'That which exists, that which is', "True essence' or 'True nature'. Satya, therefore, is seeing and communicating things as they actually are, not as we wish them to be. Within our daily lives this can be quite challenging since we all perceive life through opinions, influences and in many ways a conditioned mind-set: our thoughts, beliefs, and past experiences shape and colour whatever we see, and, as such, none of us experience an event in the same way. Also, what we experience as truth one day may not be the same truth we live the next. Practicing Satya requires us to stay open to truth in the present moment, as it reveals and unfolds itself in its own beautiful way.
Staying open from day to day can feel quite intimating, sometimes we want to just crawl in a hole and be swallowed, some days we want to shout and howl wildly from the mountain tops. Yoga teaches us to be open in the sense of true awareness, to everything that is, the good, the bad, the right, the wrong, the ups and downs of life. The interweaving of sensations and emotions that can change every minute. Satya means, 'unchangable' a little contradictory to what I have just said I know! We are in constant change but that WHOLEness, that simplicity of noticing everything that is, our bodies intelligence, our thoughts, our experiences in life, and how we express ourselves are truth. With busy lives, distractions, social media, outer influences we can easily wander from our path of truth.
So how do we connect back to our true selves? Here we find the art of listening, with our ears and our hearts.
When we come to our yoga mats to practice, we need to be honest with ourselves. Is your practice serving you? What is the purpose of my practice, am I practicing to explore myself physically and emotionally or am I practicing in order to perfect a difficult yoga posture to post on instagram, am I pushing my body too hard? Asking such questions and allowing honest answers to surface will help you to move beyond this physical shell, dissolve the ego and limited identity, and help you blossom into your true potentials.
Our yoga practice is here to serve our bodies and minds, not harm our joints and ligaments – so each time we get on the mat it’s important to have complete honesty with what we actually need in that very moment. On a physical and emotional level, we change all the time, so fixating upon one way of practising isn’t always going to work out. When we can get the ego-mind out of the way (you know, the one that tells us we should be able to do headstand, or we should be able to meditate without getting distracted….) this offers us a way to see past our conditioned, ever-changing and un-true ways of thinking, and uncover a more pure and beneficial way of practising and treating ourselves on all levels.
So next time you're about to practice...
Pay closer attention to the breath, The breath is such an important factor in asana (posture) practice, but one of the most important aspects is that it tells us when to back off…. If the breath is strained or shallow, it’s likely that the body isn’t happy with what it’s being asked to do – so even though it might hurt our ego a little bit, honesty requires listening to the breath in every moment and working with it.
Take your time, to feel each movement your body creates, even if this means taking a longer rest in class, pressing pause on the youtube video you're following along to, heck, turning it off completely to get into your own flow. Notice the breath, then notice how you move, and cultivate that acceptance, to notice those areas that feel uncomfortable, and are you avoiding them? Maybe today, stay within them and feel each layer, maybe your next practice they will feel different. Learning how to feel, learning how to accept makes your practice so much more beautiful. You no longer need to be hard on yourself because you can't do something, you show up where you are and you love that place. Every time you practice, please remember, you're never taking a backwards step.